Real Talk: Starting & Sharing My Blog

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recently I heard from an old friend who is starting their own blog and wanted to know about my experience with sharing it publicly. I realized that a lot of new bloggers probably struggle with this, and it may even be the reason that some are too scared to create a blog. My advice may not be the cookie cutter, everything is butterflies response that you might want, but it is the truth.

Photo via Pinterest
 Without further ado, here is the story of how I started and ultimately shared my blog...

When I was in high school, I made a couple "blogs" but they always fizzled out. I couldn't find my hook to keep writing and I always ended up deleting them. Then, in France, I started writing about my adventures as an American exchange student. It turned out to be more of a journal/ranting session than a well-written blog, so I closed that door and decided I'd start again some other time. After coming back from France, I realized it was the perfect time to start a real blog. I was headed to college, to a new city, with new people and what felt like a new life. What better moment to start an online documentation of my adventures? I toyed with names, even using "Taking After Mother" before I decided it had to be more personal. I had to brand myself. I tried "Em Meets World" and it was fine, but it felt too constraining. I had acquired the jokingly conceited nickname "Emily la jolie" from my French host family, and found this was the perfect mix of world-traveler-Emily and small-town-Emily. So Em La Jolie was born. I changed my Twitter and Instagram handles and really made it mine. At first, I didn't advertise so much that I had a blog; I knew that people around me might check it out, but I didn't want to plaster it everywhere.

It took me a while to find my voice, to find my style of blogging, to find my niche, if you will. I had found the persona, but still struggled with what I should write about and how. It came second to my school work and social life in Chicago, and eventually I just wrote sporadic posts about my life there. Then, in the summer of 2013, I came back. I re-vamped my blog and started writing more regularly. I bought a theme (hello, gold & sparkles!) and worked to make it more ME. It was at this point that I knew I needed to start sharing. My adventures, advice and thoughts were finally being compiled and I wanted people to know about them. It didn't make the actual act of copy+pasting the link into my Facebook status any easier. I worried so much about what people would think, whether they would judge me or think it was stupid. Then I started getting feedback.

"Love the new post!" "You should write about ____!" "Maybe I should start a blog..."

And sharing my posts became easier and easier. Gradually, it started to be a question of how many views I could get, which posts were more popular, how many platforms I could share them on. I joined blogger networks and found the most amazing people - including my blogger bestie, Greta from The Greta Elise (she doesn't get nearly enough credit for her amazing writing).

My blog has become such a huge part of my life and I love involving my friends and family in posts, asking for ideas or just getting feedback. I still remember the first time I pressed "share" and while it was a whirldwind of a ride to get to where I am, I don't regret a minute of it. I still get so surprised and happy when someone tells me they read or enjoy my blog (hint hint), because I never expected it to be as much as it is. But then again, the greatest things in life happen without warning, don't they? 

So, my advice to all you closeted bloggers or writers stuck in the should-I-do-it limbo: 

Start writing. Everyday, once a week, once a month - it doesn't matter. Keep it in the back of your mind. Try out different styles, look at other blogs for inspiration (but don't copy a post without linking back!) and reach out to people. The blogging community is filled with possibly the nicest people ever, and honestly, sending that e-mail to your favorite blogger will just make them smile. Write about what you want, find your style, make it your own - share it if you're comfortable. It's a big step, but if the only thing that's holding you back is stressing over what people will think and not about the format or actual writing, then press that button, darling! There is no better time than the present. Let it grow, let it stall, let it happen. Keep at it, even when it seems annoying or dumb. And do it all at your own pace. 

Most importantly, please reach out if you have any questions, need any advice or just want to chat!

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